Author: Eric Magrane

About Proximities

What are the proximities between art and environment? How might exploring the symmetries between art and science open up new ways of being and becoming in the world? How might different fields of knowledge work together to address the environmental perils that we are faced with here in the geologic Anthropocene?

These are just a few of the questions at the root of this Proximities blog, written by Eric Magrane of Institute of the Environment. Highlighting people and places at UA and in Tucson where art and environment proximities are opening up and pushing the boundaries of what is possible, this blog also hopes to instigate further proximities and collaborations.

To read more about the groundwork of Proximities, please see the first post.

Recent Posts

Finding Abbey, Environmental Writing, and Storying the Landscape: A Conversation on Art & Environment with Sean Prentiss and Erik Reece

October 22, 2015

As the seventh in an ongoing series of cross-posts with A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments, this Proximities features a conversation between environmental writers Sean Prentiss and Erik Reece. Prentiss will be at the University of Arizona reading along with poet Steve Coughlin on Tuesday, October 27, at the new ENR2 building at 5:30 p.m., and Reece will read for the UA Prose Series at the Poetry Center on Tuesday, November 17, at 7 p.m.

Three Exhibits

October 9, 2015

Tucson Museum of Art’s Arizona Biennial, closing on October 11, includes many works addressing environmental themes, and two other exhibits closing later this month---at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's Ironwood Gallery and the Tucson Jewish Community Center Fine Art Gallery---also have UA and environmental connections.


Rafe Sagarin

September 15, 2015

In memory of Rafe Sagarin (1971–2015), who was killed by a truck while riding his bicycle near Biosphere 2 in May.

On multiple occasions, I remember Rafe Sagarin quoting the poet Robinson Jeffers.

“Humanity is the mould to break away from, the crust to break through,” he would recite, from Jeffers’ poem “Roan Stallion.”

Rafe moved seamlessly between different ways of knowing the world, and his wide-ranging intellect, knowledge, and curiosity radiated from all that he did. His thinking, while reflecting his training as a marine biologist, was outside of any narrow conception of art or science or disciplinary boundaries.

The Ecological Imagination: A Conversation on Art & Environment with Mitchell Thomashow, Ben Champion, and Paulina Jenney

April 29, 2015

As the sixth in an ongoing series of cross-posts with A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments, this Proximities features a conversation between Ben Champion, director of sustainability at the University of Arizona, and Mitchell Thomashow, former Unity College president and author of The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus. The conversation took place this spring, when Mitch met with the Art & Environment Network at Institute of the Environment. editor Simmons B. Buntin and I asked Paulina Jenney, a UA student in creative writing and environmental studies and a Flinn Scholar, to facilitate the conversation. Excerpts from that conversation follow. 


Art in the Tree-Ring Lab

April 10, 2015

Patterns and time are hinges to both art and science.

This is apparent in the new exhibit in the University of Arizona’s Bryant Bannister Tree-Ring Building, “Marking Time to a Changing Climate,” which features work by UA’s Ellen McMahon, Thomas Saffle, Kejun Li, and Jesse Chehak.

After a quick look at Li’s prints, you might think they are images of tree rings, ones that note time in terms of decades or centuries, reflecting patterns of growth marked by fire scars and droughts. In actuality, Li’s pieces were made by dragging a credit card across a piece of glass.

The Poetics and Politics of Water

February 11, 2015

Recently I had the chance to sit down with Ofelia Zepeda and Larry Evers to speak about The Poetics and Politics of Water, a reading series this spring at the University of Arizona Poetry Center. The series, featuring four American Indian poets, begins Thursday, February 12, at 7 p.m., with a reading by Sherwin Bitsui.

The Poetry Center produced a short video that includes excerpts from our conversation, and I’d like to go into a bit more detail here.  

Trans-Waters: Coalitional Thinking on Art & Environment with Adela C. Licona and Eva S. Hayward

December 17, 2014

As the fifth in an ongoing series of cross-posts with A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments, this Proximities features a conversation between the University of Arizona’s Adela C. Licona and Eva S. Hayward. Licona and Hayward’s collaborative photo essay—written in a form they present as a type of experimental “coalitional thinking”—gets at links between environmental degradation and issues of social justice, between climate change and racism, between dead fish and desolation, between personal loss and liminal thinking and seeing, and between multi-species solidarities and decomposition.

Artist-Scientists of the Future

May 9, 2014

Where have we been, where are we now, and where are we going?

These are big questions that call for both artistic and scientific ways of knowing. In a broad sense, both art and science are about how we relate with time and space.

This is something that struck me at a recent opening of an art exhibit of work by artist-scientists. These artist-scientists are fourth graders at Manzo Elementary School here in Tucson, known as the greenest elementary school on the planet.